Friday, March 22, 2024

OSR: Even More Schools of Magic

As usual, I'm very late to this trend, if it ever was one.  Consider this post a companion piece to this one.

by SeaofFireflies
The Imperial Model:

The Arcane University in Au-Mar categorize Magic as divided between the Greater and lesser schools.  

The Greater Schools are as follows:

- Conjuration, which focuses on moving things, namely objects, creatures and information from one place to another.
- Evocation, which is dedicated to the manipulation of energies.
- Transmutation, which is focused on the changing of one item to another.  

The Lesser Schools are said to be derived from one of the Greater Schools.
Divination is a Lesser School, derived from Conjuration, as it focuses on moving information from one location to another.  

Illusion is a Lesser School, which derives from Evocation, is focused on the manipulation of light, sound and the senses.  

And of course, there are fierce debates about where some Schools fall.  Does Shape-shifting count as it's own School, and if it does, does it count as a part of Biomancy?  And on the subject, is Biomancy derived from Transmutation, as it is the changing of an existing substance, or is it merely the manipulation of existing energies and material, thus making it derive from Evocation?  There is no consensus on this topic, only arguments of varying validity.  

by yigitkoroglu
The Winds of Magic Theory:

The Strixa, an ancient civilization that produced unparalleled advances in sorcery and mathematics, theorized that magic flowed from various sources that, when intermingled, formed a flowing, fluid network that changed and altered based on external forces.  They called these forces The Winds of Magic.  

The Winds were:

The Wind of Fire: The Red Wind.  Originates from the Sun.  Enabled the manipulation of fire, heat, light and time.  Also useful for purification.  

The Wind of Change: The Silver/White Wind (varies by tradition).  Originates from the Moon.  Enabled the manipulation of the mind, the creation of illusions and shapeshifting. 

The Wind of Heaven: The Teal/White Wind (varies by tradition).  Originates from the Stars.  Enabled the acquisition of knowledge, the manipulation of fortune and space and invisibility.  This was considered the most useful Wind to draw upon when Scrying.  

The Wind of Air/Sky (see above): The Blue/Azure Wind.  Originates from the Sky, but only during the day.  Enabled the manipulation of the weather, lightning, clouds and wind.  The best Wind to draw upon if you wanted to fly.  

The Wind of Stone: The Yellow Wind.  Originates from the Earth.  Enables the manipulation of rock, stone, earth, metal and minerals.  

The Wind of Tides: The Blue/Cobalt Wind.  Originates from the Ocean.  Enables the manipulation of water, storms and sea-life.  Scholars are split on whether or not this or the Wind of Sky grants better control over weather.  

The Wind of Shadow: The Purple Wind.  Originates from Darkness.  Enables the manipulation of shadows, darkness, decay and hidden things.  It is the best Wind to use when concealing things  and debately, practicing Necromancy.  

The Wind of Life: The Green Wind.  Originates from the World-Spirit.  Enables the manipulation of life, living creatures, poison, growth, disease and mutation.  The best source to draw upon for Healing magic.  Also some argue that this Wind is a better source for powering Necromancy than the Wind of Shadow.

The best argument for this theory is that it is possible to draw mana from the above listed natural sources, though it is dangerous and usually not worth the effort, unless you're attempting a massive working.  The best argument against it is that it's rather arbitrary.  According to some Scholars, the Stars are present during the day, we just can't see them.  And why does the Sky get two Winds associated with it?  And who gets control over weather, the Wind best for controlling water or the one that controls clouds?  And what, exactly is the World-Spirit?  

Some Strixan scholars argued it was the true source of all life, an Ur-creature, an All-Mother that could have looked like anything, from a divine Goddess to a hermaphroditic demigod to a continent-sized slab of flesh.  Others, meanwhile, argued that the World-Spirit was all living things collectively, or the soul to the physical body of the world.  

That latter group ruthlessly persecuted those who specialized in the tapping of the Wind of Life, for they believed that excessive use could harm the world itself and potentially lead to the death of all living things.  There was never any agreement, not when the Strixans ruled a third of the world and certainly not now, as the civilizations living on their bones squabble over the detritus they left behind.   

by zhaoenzhe
The Metal Magi of Yi'Fa:

The lands of Yi'Fa categorize Magi into a series of schools named after and based on the their Theory of Metallurgy, a spiritual and philosophical school that governs much of their government policy, cultural activities and religious practice.  The Theory of Metallurgy is based on the idea that the universe can be divided into five aspects which interact and battle with each other.  These aspects are each tied to one of the five "Prime" metals.  The Five Prime Metals are Gold, Silver, Iron, Pewter and Mercury. 

To the Yi'fan, Gold represents the Sun, Eternity, Divinity and Royalty.  As such, Golden Magi are among the most honored in their society.  Golden Magi practice magic relating to healing and protection, using their magic to protect, heal and restore.  Their orders are highly exclusive, recruiting only from the most talented and noble.  Though sought out by nobles and Kings alike, Golden Magi are still beloved by the common people and play a great role in the folklore of Yi'Fa.  Golden Magi can often be identified by the fact that by practicing their arts for long enough, parts of their flesh will transform into living gold.  

Silver represents Quickness, Motion, Commerce, the Sea and Luck.  Silver Magi command wind and water, as well as the tides of fortune.  They are prized by merchants and sailors, who employ them to speed journeys on their way or bring them safely to a distant destination.  Silver Magi are much more egalitarian, recruiting anyone who wishes to and possesses the talent.  Their academies are known across the region, for both their effectiveness in training Magi and their ruinous prices.  Still, many Silver Magi earn more than enough to pay off their debts, and many even go on to command their own businesses, fleets or combines.  A Merchant's Guild that does not keep at least one Silver Magi on staff is sure to lose out to those that do.  That being said, Silver Magi are not well-loved by commoners for they have a reputation for being heartless money-grubbers.  The Nobility also generally aren't big fans of them, as the wealth of some of the merchant-princes threatens to eclipse that of even the Great Houses.  

Iron represents Blood, Law, War and Wild Beasts.  Iron Magi have the ability to tear men apart with their bare hands or reduce crowds of attacks to chunks of bloody meat with a shouted word.  They are killers and mercenaries, warlords and wild-men stalking the wild.  In times of strife, Iron Magi are revered by soldiers and utilized to tear apart enemy armies and assassinate rival princes.  However, as soon as the war ends, Iron Magi find themselves treated with cold respect.  The more generous ones retreat to the wilderness or frontier, or accept a well-paid position somewhere politically inconvenient and very far from anywhere relevant.  The less gentle ones become bandits and criminals, using their bloody skills to amass wealth and power.  Iron Magi are feared by all, but are very convenient friends to have.  Plus, while the Nobility do fear them, they fear what would happen if they tried to purge the Irons more.  

Pewter represents the Earth, the People, Cities and Industry.  Pewter Magi can manipulate stone and metal, as well as altering people's perceptions and feelings.  They are known for their ability to construct buildings without a single tool and repair damaged objects with a wave of their hand.  Despite this, or perhaps because of it, Pewter Magi are celebrated as heroes wherever they go, friends of the common man and threats to corrupt officials and tyrants.  If Golden Magi are beloved, Pewter Magi are basically worshiped by the common people.  They are similarly feared by the Nobility, as they tend to not be fans of the ruling dynasty, even when things are going well.  And when things go poorly, many a peasant revolt has been headed up or aided by Pewter Magi.  

Mercury represents Transformation, Longevity, Knowledge and Chaos.  Mercury Magi, also called Mercury Mages or Mercurians, command the strange power to transform themselves into beasts or other strange forms, as well as to transform one substance into another.  They also possess the ability to spy on enemies from far away, steal knowledge and trigger disruptions that can cause everything from bad luck to disease to natural disasters.  Mercury Magi are the rarest of their kind, known for their research into the far reaches of accumulated knowledge, as well as their bizarre and often dangerous experiments.  According to the stories about them, most are interested in two primary abilities, the ability turn non-precious metals into gold and the ability to extend life or grant immortality.  For this reason, they are often courted by kings and Emperors for their unique knowledge, while the common people fear them.  Despite the fact that they are often greatly favored by the powerful, Mercury Magi are rarely content to be a monarch's caged mage and often abandon such a lucrative post to pursue their own agendas.  Their reputation for being capricious, mysterious and paranoid is well-earned.  Despite this, however, no one powerful will turn away a Mercury Magi, if only for what they might know.  

The main problem with the Yi'fan's theory of magic is that it is tied to their Theory of Metallurgy, which makes it unwieldly and impractical.  The Theory is so prized and central to their culture that though it is not a religious text, it's tenets have taken on a sacred aspect, especially among the upper classes.  As such, scholars and Magi alike contort their logic and stretch definitions to categorize them under one metal or the other.  This leads to many highly passionate and ferocious debates over spells that cannot neatly fit into one of the Primes.

For example, most would argue transformation spells fall solidly under Mercury, as it the school that commands the power of transformation.  However, Iron also has power over wild beasts, so what would a spell that transforms someone into a wild beast fall under?  Similarly, what about a spell that tears apart a large stone and hurls out a shower of stones at high speed?  Is that Pewter, because it manipulates the Earth, or Iron, because it is primarily used for violence?  

Or what about a simple spell to conjure fire?  Most would argue that falls under Gold, as the Sun is often associated with fire, but what if you accept the notion that fire is just air moving rapidly?  Wouldn't that make that conjured flame fall under Silver instead?  And as these definitions are not just academic, but tied closely to religious and political convictions, the debates tend to quickly devolve into shouting, brawling and petitioning the government to ban your academic or philosophical rivals as seditious rebels.

by muju

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